Vol. 12, No. 2,856W - The American Reporter - March 18, 2006

by Lucy Komisar
American Reporter Correspondent
New York, N.Y.

"Intimate Apparel." Written by Lynn Nottage. Directed by Daniel Sullivan. Starring Viola Davis, Arija Barekis, Russell Hornsby, Lynda Gravatt, Corey Stoll, Lauren Velez. Set by Derek McLane. Costumes by Catherine Zuber. Lighting by Allen Lee Hughes. Music by Harold Wheeler. Sound by Marc Gwinn. New York: Roundabout Theatre Company at Laura Pels Theatre, 111 W. 46 Street. Tue-Sat 7:30; Wed, Sat, Sun 2. Running time 2:15. Through June 13, 2004. $51.25-$61.25. 212-719-1300. Website at http://www.roundabouttheatre.org.

Bad men: bad choices..
Photo: Joan Marcus

NEW YORK -- Sometimes when women are lonely and desperate for love, they make bad choices. Change that to "often." Esther (Viola Davis) is 35, a black woman living in a boarding house and sewing corsets and lingerie for the rich. It is 1905.

By chance, a Barbadian workman digging the Panama Canal meets someone who knows her and starts a correspondence. Esther can't read or write so rich Mrs. Van Buren (Arija Bareikis), a client, pens her letters. The Van Buren marriage, by the way, is no model, because it hasn't produced a child and her husband is looking elsewhere.

But George Armstrong (Russell Hornsby) shows through his letters that he's a charmer, and Esther delights in the epistolary romance. Alas, after he proposes marriage, comes to New York, and weds and beds her, it turns out that they both are strangers to each other. He is indeed robustly handsome, but he ends up being not quite the lover she imagined.

Esther's landlady, Mrs. Dickson (Lynda Gravatt) hadn't done much better. She married a much older men who, to her relief, died and left her some cash.

Viola Davis is touchingly innocent as the naive, sorrowful Esther, while the Lynda Gravatt and Arija Bareikis seem toughened by the "grin-and-bear-it" school of marriage.

Moral: no men are better than no-good men.

Lucy Komisar welcomes your comments. Please send them to mailto:lkomisar(at)echonyc.com.mailto:lkomisar@echonyc.com.>

Copyright 2006 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.

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